At Schneider Electric, we promote and respect the rights of people with disabilities by raising awareness and tackling the stigma and stereotypes faced by people with disabilities. We foster equal treatment and equal opportunities for people with disabilities and are working to build an inclusive culture for all abilities. In recognition of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Mike O’Brien shares his experience as a caregiver of his son with a disability.
Life as a Caregiver to Somone with a Disability
Did you know that 15% of the world’s population are Persons with Disabilities? About 80% of this population are of working age.
In my role as an ally and a caregiver to someone with a disability, I am supporting our Persons with Disability community by leading & establishing the United States Disability & Accessibility (D&A) Employee Resource Network (ERN) as part of Schneider’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts (DEI). This ERN will promote a culture that embraces and understands disabled employees, customers, and communities to enrich our mutual experience, perspective, and business outcomes.
When I am not working, I am also a caregiver to a Person with a Disability, my son Brendan. Back in 2002, Brendan was born, and although I did not yet know it, life’s journey was taking an unexpected turn. As the early months went by and Brendan was not hitting certain milestones; we became suspicious something was not quite right. After endless tests, our own research, and a final visit to a neurologist; at 3 years old, he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP is a broad term for a condition that can impact a person’s ability to move, maintain balance, and a host of other challenges that can range from mild to severe.
Disability & Accessibility Employee Resource Network at Schneider Electric
While this is my personal background story about the interest I have had in making a positive impact on Persons with Disabilities around me, it only scratches the surface of some of the challenges we face. As an employer, we should strive to not only accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the workplace, but also ensure we are recruiting, developing, and promoting Persons with Disabilities at a proportionate rate compared to our local communities. My personal background has made me think more frequently and deeply about Persons with Disabilities having access to equal opportunities. Being a parent & caregiver to a Person with Disability has driven me to step up and lead this employee network.
Early into this journey, I have recognized some of the work we need to undertake thanks to insightful conversations with other employees that are either an ally to or a Person with a Disability. The work we need to undertake is not only for our own people within Schneider Electric but also our customers and partners. Accessibility needs to be a part of our culture of innovation and product and service designs. How many products today in any market are using digital screens and interfaces that require sight and mobility capabilities? What if every product was designed with accessibility in mind from day 1; would that only benefit the Persons with Disability community, or would it make the products themselves more enjoyable and provide ease-of-use for all consumers? The answer of course is the latter, and it may seem surprising that you should consider your own future requirements. Almost everyone will experience some sort of disability during their lifetime (Source).
Accessibility needs to be a part of our culture of innovation and product and service designs.
With this blog, I am highlighting some key topics that should be considered related to Disability & Accessibility. As we embark on our Disability & Accessibility journey towards a more accessible company for all, we will need to carefully prioritize our internal & external ambitions. Our mission will be to foster networking, professional development, mentoring, leadership opportunities, and increase awareness and allyship within the Schneider Electric community with a focus on recruitment, retention, and learning of disabled professionals. We aim to create more awareness and allyship of Persons with Disability, drive business-related results, and ultimately give back through outreach initiatives.
Learn more about our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives and policies here: www.se.com/diversity
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